Wash. Times falsely equated emergency contraception with abortion

In recent days, The Washington Times has repeatedly falsely equated emergency contraception with abortion. In fact, health experts have noted that emergency contraception does not terminate pregnancies; rather, emergency contraception is used to prevent pregnancies.

Wash. Times repeatedly equated emergency contraception, abortion

Wash. Times article claimed, “Planned Parenthood offered free emergency contraception” after Hurricane Katrina “to terminate pregnancies.” A January 22 Times article titled, “Haiti appeal from Planned Parenthood hit,” quoted Family Research Council (FRC) president Tony Perkins' criticism of Planned Parenthood's relief efforts in Haiti and stated: "[Perkins] said that Planned Parenthood has a history of using natural disasters to promote its agenda. After Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, Planned Parenthood offered free emergency contraception, better known as 'morning-after' pills, to terminate pregnancies."

Fox Nation advanced Times article. The Fox Nation on January 26 linked to the Times article under the headline, “Haiti Appeal From Planned Parenthood Hit.” From the Fox Nation:


Wash. Times published assertion that “number of abortions” in FY 2008 could rise "[i]f we include emergency contraception kits." In a January 26 Times op-ed, FRC's Jeanne Monahan wrote: “By far the most staggering number listed in Planned Parenthood's annual report isn't about money (at least not to pro-life Americans, who make up a slim majority). The report notes that the number of abortions that occurred during fiscal 2008 was a whopping 305,000. If we include emergency contraception kits, that number could rise to more than 1.4 million.”

But health experts say that emergency contraception prevents -- not terminates -- pregnancy

HHS: “Emergency contraception works before pregnancy begins” and “will not work if a woman is already pregnant.” On a “Frequently Asked Questions” page of its website, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office on Women's Health stated:

Are emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs) the same thing as the abortion pill?

No. Emergency contraception works before pregnancy begins. It will not work if a woman is already pregnant. Abortion takes place after a fertilized egg has attached to the uterus.

Guttmacher Institute: "[E]mergency contraception ... has no effect once a pregnancy has been established." An October 2002 Guttmacher Institute “Special Analysis” noted that "[e]mergency contraception is no more a 'do-it-yourself abortion kit' than are regular birth control pills; it has no effect once a pregnancy has been established." From the analysis:

Emergency contraception prevents pregnancy in the same way as other hormonal contraceptive methods, such as the pill, the injectable (Depo-Provera) and even breastfeeding: by delaying or inhibiting ovulation, inhibiting fertilization or inhibiting implantation of a fertilized egg, depending on when during the menstrual cycle a woman initiates the method. (According to the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), pregnancy begins when a fertilized egg implants in the lining of the uterus.) Thus, emergency contraception is no more a “do-it-yourself abortion kit” than are regular birth control pills; it has no effect once a pregnancy has been established.

WHO: Evidence “suggests” emergency contraception “will not harm either the mother or her fetus” if taken by an already pregnant woman. A World Health Organization "Fact sheet on emergency contraception" noted: “Emergency contraceptive pills prevent pregnancy. They should not be given to a woman who already has a confirmed pregnancy. However, if a woman inadvertently takes the pills after she became pregnant, the limited available evidence suggests that the pills will not harm either the mother or her fetus.”